Friday, 24 August 2012
TNA Exclusive Interview: Mr Anderson – I can't wait to bring our show back to Ireland! TNA/Impact Wrestling star Ken Anderson has achieved a great deal in his relatively sort time with the company. He has held the world title and participated in many of the organisations most popular matches and amassed a very loyal fan base along the way. In the lead up to the HardCore Justice PPV Running The Ropes Phil Allely was fortunate enough to chat to Anderson about his career to date, the upcoming UK/Ireland tour and his old friend Austin Aries (who had just raised the TNA Heavyweight Gold). Hi Ken, great to speak to you again. Can we kick off with you thoughts on the Bound For Glory series of matches? 'Yeah Phil. I think they are exciting, we all have to up our game during them and of course we all want to get that title shot. I know we all work hard out there (in the ring), but for this kind of match, you have to work even harder, you know up your game.' One guy you seem to always have a good match is Rob Van Dam. Why is that? 'Well RVD is one of those guys who is deceptively big. There are many of us who fans will say oh you look bigger on TV. Not him, the guy is like a tank, it is tough to have a game plan when you face Rob. I do think we gel well though and we both know what we can get out of the other.' You will be a part of the UK/Ireland Tour in January 2013. Is it true the roster always look forward to these tours? 'Indeed it is true. These tours are exciting for us as much as they are the fans. In the states our fans are kind of spoilt, they see us any time they want. In the UK or Ireland (and last tour Europe) the fans only get to see us once a year. And we only have a few dates, so not every town gets to see us. That means we go out there and put on the best show we can, for those people who made the effort to come see us. ' The Lockdown cage will feature on each card. Do you think you guys will know prior to the tour who may have to enter the cage to fight? 'Well Phil as a professional wrestling business I have to say that odds are we will not know til just before the bell rings. I am happy with that as I don;t mind entering a structure that can cause me pain or make me bleed. I am a fight not flight kind of guy, so I will be ready for it.' I am as you know form Ireland Ken, have you fond memories of your last trip to the Emerald Isle? 'I do Phil. Now I'm not saying this because I am talking to you (laughs), but Ireland is always a favourite place to visit by us all. It is always talked about by the boys in the locker room. Last time I was there the crowd were insane. I hope we get the same sot of reaction this time around too. The venue (The National Stadium, Dublin) is perfect for our product, it is just right for us. The fans were packed in there and the atmosphere was right on the money too. When you cram fans that crazy in a building and have our guys talking trash to them, you know you are in for a special night. I think the Irish fans love to see a fight and that is what we will bring them.' One of Ireland's best known sons in the world of wrestling is Dave 'Fit' Finlay. Did you ever cross paths with him? 'Oh yeah I am a huge fan of his. He helped me tremendously when I was starting out. I still watch his matches today and use him for reference a lot. He is one tough guy too, a genuine bad ass (laughs). He can still go too, I'd say he is one of the best representatives for our business as a whole. If he was available he would make a great addition to our roster.' Austin Aries winning the world title has shaken up the title picture. What did you think when he beat Bobby Roode for the belt? 'Well Phil for me it was something to be proud of. We didn't necessarily start off together, but we did spend a lot of time on the road (with Daivari, ODB too). We all would drive everywhere, for little or no money and we did that for years, so I know the guy very well. We all cut our teeth together and I know all the people said he was too small and would never win a major belt. But when he came here (TNA) , he worked hard and has earned everyone's respect. You have to give him credit for that'. Finally Ken would you like to face Austin for the World Title somewhere down the line? 'I would love to face him. We actually just did have a match last weekend at a house show. The first time in almost eight years. It brought back loads of memories and whilst we have changed a lot, the magic was there. It would be great to do it on TV and show the fans everywhere what we can do.' Thanks Ken, good look with you BFG series matches and your pursuit of that match with Austin too. See you in Dublin. 'See you then Phil'. Www.impactwrestling.com www.ticketmaster.co.uk TNA Maximum Impact Tour 2013 Jan 21 National Stadium, Dublin. Jan23 Braehead Arena, Glasgow. Jan 24 Capital FM Arena, Nottingham. Jan 25 Manchester Arena, Manchester. Jan 26 Wembley Arena, London. By Phil Allely
Thursday, 23 August 2012
WWE PPV Review: Summerslam 2012 WWE's annual summer extravaganza remains one of the company's top pay-per-views of the year. Like The Royal Rumble and WrestleMania Summerslam is one event where we the fans know the matches will be lined up to please all. This year the main talking point was the encounter between Triple H and the as yet not as exciting as he should be Brock Lesnar. So did the card deliver? Here is Phil Allely's review of the show. WWE United States Title Match: Antonio Cesaro vs. Santino Marella This fun opener saw crowd favourite Santino tyr to unleash his 'corba' finihser early and Ceraso attempt to put him away with a few decent moves. The finish came as Askana interfered on Cesaro's behalf and Marella fell to a front piledriver. The US Title found a new home with Antoni, as a stunned live crowd watched on. Dolph Ziggler vs. Chris Jericho Opening things up proper (The US title scrap was a dark match) Dolph Ziggler attempted to regain some lost momentum, by battling veteran grappler Chris Jericho. With the smart fans knowing that Jericho is set for a short sabatical (to tour with his band Fozzy) this seemed to be Ziggler's night. However even with an injured Jericho and assistance form Vickie Guerrero, it was not meant to be. Ziggler proved to be a worthy opponent, but the wiley Jericho was still able to hold him off and lock in a 'Walls of Jericho' to gain a submission win. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan The once almost indestructible 'big red machine' Kane has lost much of his monster appeal in recent years. Although he is still a formidable foe, when matched with a decent in-ring partner. This bout with Daniel Bryan was one such match where everything worked well and Kane was able to strut his stuff. The men both traded near falls, teased finishers and much more in this by the numbers brawl. Bryan was fortunate to be able to counter a 'Tombstone Piledriver' and roll up Kane for the popular win. Kane went ballistic post-match. WWE Intercontinental Title Match: Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz Seemingly inspired by Batman Rey Mysterio gave The Miz a run for his money in this fast-paced encounter. The pairing worked well together and had some nice back-and-forth action going on in this one. Miz pulled off the surprise win to retain his belt, following a 'Skull Crunching Finale'. World Heavyweight Title Match: Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus Irishman Sheamus has been working hard to build himself up as a convincing champion. This scrap with Alberto Del Rio hd its moment, but also showed that Sheamus still needs some work to be a believable world title holder. The action was reasonably crisp, Ricardo tried to interfere as per usual and the champion retained. The end saw Ricardo's shoe used on Del Rio and Sheamus nail an 'Irish Curse' to keep his gold. ADR's foot was on the bottom rope, so did taint the win somewhat. WWE Tag Team Title Match: Titus O'Neil and Darren Young vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth We have written here before that the WWE are in dire need of new tag teams. This next match proves that point exactly. Champs Kofi Kingston and R Truth are a very good duo and as such deserve some above par opponents. O'Neill and Young are not too shabby, but there are better teams out there and the WWE need to get them on board if the division is to continue. The champions won with ease and will continue to do so until an equally talented pairing sign up to the WWE. WWE Title Match: Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Big Show As WWE Champion CM Punk has been a revelation. This is a man who for many years was buried by the WWE and was forced to tread water until he proved himself. His in-ring speech last year was the point where Punk's character took off and also the event that made Vince McMahon take notice of Phil Brooks. Now with the belt firmly in his grasp Punk is the man at present in the company and as such he needs to be fed the best quality competitors possible to maintain that momentum. Here he had the combo of Big Show and John Cena to face. Cena and Show are both former champions and have headlined many PPV's over the years. As a triple threat style encounter this was a superb one. This match raised expectations perfectly, the combatants worked very well indeed, even Cena pulled out all the stops to make Punk look good. Show may be nearing the end of his in-ring career, but he can still work a bout that allows him short breaks and breathing space. Punk kept his gold after knocking Cena out of the ring and covering Show. Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar The main event was perhaps the most highly anticipated match of the night. Brock Lesnar has yet to prove himself to be the monster he has been billed as and with Triple H as his opponent this was his chance to reclaim his throne. With Paul (ECW) Heyman in tow Lesnar makes for a formidable guy, his appearance and demeanour are truly scary. The match itself was a brutal affair, Triple H giving as good as he got throughout. The action went both in and out of the ring frequently and Lesnar finally looked as frighteningly powerful as he should do here. The match finished with a nice sequence where Lesnar applied his submission finisher and Triple H finally had to succumb to the pain. The show went off the air with a beaten Triple H barely making it out of the ring, lesnar celebrating and many in attendance believing that Triple H was not only the receiver of a broken arm, but on the cusp of making a retirement announcement. Summerslam was a show that looked good on paper, the matches were reasonable, but nothing special. The world title matches and Triple H/Lesnar bouts made this worth viewing and saved the PPV. This like other recent WWE live shows has proved that the company need to recruit some young (potential main event blood asap. Www.wwe.com By Phil Allely
Tuesday, 21 August 2012
TNA Pay-Per-View Review – Hardcore Justice 2012 By Phil Allely TNA adapted their annual Hard Justice a few years ago to accommodate the then influx of former ECW stars they had signed and created an event that embraced that more 'Hardcore' style match set-up and environment. This of course went against their (PG Rated) competitors the WWE and gave old school fans something to grab their attention. That initial event was booked by Tommy Dreamer, but even now that he and many of his ECW peers have left the promotion the concept still works. The opener here saw new TNA signing Chavo Guerrero align himself with fellow Mexican Hernandez to battle the combo of Gunner and Kid Kash. Although this was a scrap of little worth, it was good to see Chavo looking in the best shape he has in years. Guererro hit a frog splash to nab the win for his team. The 'Falls Count Anywhere' encounter between Rob Van Dam, The Pope, Magnus and Mr Anderson was an as expected flurry or intensity and action. Pope was knocked out of the running early after an attack by the mysterious 'Aces and 8s' group (who will of course be unveiled soon). Anderson in an exclusive interview by yours truly did state that the main concern he had in this bout was the hard to predict RVD. UK star Magnus stood out here by offering up a more intense attitude than he has shown previously. RVD nailed a nice Van Daminator (chair assisted kick) to net himeslf a very cool 20 point Bound For Glory Series score. The Devon/Kazarian scrap for the TV title did little to enhance either man next. Kazarian is worth more and Devon has his place in TNA. The problem was the pairing never really worked here. Devon blocked a Fade to Black for and hit a slam for the pin to retain his strap. Miss Tessmacher lost her prized TNA Knockouts Title after some confusion and the lecherous Earl Hebner's attention to her opponent Madison Rayne's presence took top billing. Rayne won the gold with an assist from the ropes and a blind eye from her main crush Earl. The Bound For Glory series ' Tables Match' was an eventful and somewhat annoying affair. This four way brawl between Robbie E (minus T), Bully Ray, Jeff Hardy and James Storm had all the hallmarks of a classic encounter, until the 'Aces and 8s' reared their heads again. This time however they made it look like Storm was involved with the group. Ray took advantage of the confusion to take the pin over Hardy. Zema Ion successfully defended his newly won X Division Title next. Challenger Kenny King has looked well of late and did so again. Ion of course retained and we now wait until Jesse Sorensen gets the go ahead to take this cocky grappler down for good. It is rare for a wrestling promotion to feature one heel against two faces, but the 20 point BFG Series 'Ladder Match' did just that. AJ Styles and Daniels of course have their own agenda and Kurt Angle is a man on a mission at the best of times, Samoa Joe is a whole other story (his recent tag success alongside Magnus seemingly rejuvenating him. We enjoyed this one and especially the interplay between the combatants. Styles overcame many ladder assisted moves and near falls to net himself a 20 point BFG advantage. The main event between Heavyweight Champion Austin Aries and former champ Bobby Roode was a match of highs and lows. The back and forth, near fall moves worked well and got the live audience involved the way they should. The ref bumps and confusion not so much. The finish came as Aries grabbed a nice roll up to retain his treasured belt. Hardcore Justice came hot on the heels of some of TNA's finest PPV's to date. The matches were on the whole fair to good and the results pleasing. Aries as Heavyweight Champion is a breath of fresh air to the title chase and when done right the number two wrestling company seem to surpass their foe. There may still be many things to iron out, but TNA/Impact Wrestling are still the only guys in the game who seem to want to please their fans and not boost twitter ranks or web links. By Phil Allely
Posted by Phil Allely Reviews at Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Sunday, 19 August 2012
Alex Barie of WNW interviewed Kurt Angle earlier this week in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Below are the highlights: Who convinced him to go to WWE over WCW: Kurt Angle: WWE, F at the time, was going through the Attitude Era. I actually, thank God, met Ric Flair. I asked him about WCW and he straight up told time right to my face to not go there and go to WWE. Ric pretty much scared me off. WCW would do nothing with you. Vince McMahon would make you a star. Ric was right. I am very grateful what Vince did to me. He utilized me the right way. I believe if I would have went to WCW, it would have taken a heck of a lot longer to get to where I am now. The program that "put him on the map": Kurt Angle: My favorite was Triple H and Stephanie. That is what really put me on the map. That was my first year wrestling. Triple H, God bless him, is a great leader . Talk about getting in the ring with somebody and just carried you through everything. I had a concussion at Summerslam that first year and I don’t even remember what I was doing. I don’t even remember the match, but I know watching it over again Triple H, Dawyne, The Rock, just kept telling what to do and carried me through it. When I was suppose to duck out of the way, they literally pulled my head down themselves to miss and hit the other guy. You can just tell if you look back that I literally knew nothing what I was doing. I learned a lot that year. But that storyline with Triple H and Stephanie was my favorite. That or the comedy I did with Stone Cold. That was different. We were both injured and Vince McMahon wanted both of us on TV. We just had great chemistry. One of those two. Would you ever believe you'd be working with Eric Bischoff? Kurt Angle: No. At first I didn’t like Eric Bischoff. I didn’t think he would do anything to help the company. Hulk Hogan…..I always liked Terry. I didn’t have a problem with him. I thought he had one of the top three minds in the business because he was around Vince McMahon so much and when you are around Vince McMahon so much, you learn a lot! Thank God. …Him, Bruce Prichard, and Hulk Hogan are going to take TNA to the next level. Have they yet? No, but it always takes time. Everybody is always expecting overnight result. It doesn’t happen like that. Will you ever return to WWE? I can’t answer that (he smiles). I will say that I signed a three year deal with TNA recently. They want to extend the deal. I probably will. But anything is possible. A lot of wrestlers like to retire at Mania. They like to go out with 80,000-100,000 fans watching you. I’m no different, but I like the way TNA treats me. I like the money they pay me. Put it this way, my schedule, which is a part-time schedule, Thank God, I’m making the same money in TNA, maybe more, than what I would make in WWE if I was on the same schedule, so why would I want to leave? It doesn’t make any sense.
Friday, 17 August 2012
WWE star pays tribute to his former tag team partner in song! By Phil Allely In a recent article on WWE.com former Fabulous Freebird Michael 'P.S' Hayes talks about his new song 'Freebird Road' and how it was conceived as a tribute to his best friend (the late) Terry 'Bam Bam' Gordy. One of the original Freebirds line-up Gordy was rightly acknowledged as one of the toughest men in the wrestling business. The team had some of the finest feuds in history against combos such as the Von Erich's, Road Warriors and many others. Gordy also went on to headline in Japan alongside fellow hard-hitter 'Doctor Death' Steve Williams. Gordy's last main role before his sad passing in 2001, was as The Executioner for the WWE in a feud with Undertaker. In their prime The Fabulous Freebirds (Gordy,Hayes, Buddy Roberts) were the hottest team in the industry, they also innovated the concept of entrance music for grappler's. Their song of choice was appropriately 'Freebird' by Lynyrd Skynyrd. “I was listening to ‘Brickyard Road’ by [Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist] Johnny Van Zant, which is a tribute song to his brother Ronnie, who died in a plane crash. Listening to the song, I started to notice the parallels between what the song was saying about Ronnie and how I felt about Terry,” Hayes elaborated. Hayes retired from the ring, taking up a major role with the WWE creative department and has moved up the ladder greatly since then, he now commands a high level of power on the Smackdown brand. He did of course manage The Hardy Boyz during their initial WWE run (as the colourful DoKHendrix) and has appeared on screen at times and been instrumental in some of the best and worst of the WWE product (depending on your views). His recent appearances have seen his dress sense lampooned by performers at the annual Hall Of Fame ceremony. A natural in-ring performer in his prime Hayes has always had music in his blood and loves step inside the studio. “The purpose of doing this wasn’t just to record another song, it was to teach people about this guy who was just born to wrestle,” Hayes explained. “I think Jimmy Garvin (one of the more recent incarnations of the Freebirds) said it best, ‘God put Terry Gordy on Earth to wrestle,’ and when you look at his career, it’s hard to argue with that. But more importantly, I wanted people to know the man outside of the ring.” Receiving a positive reaction the song seems destined to highlight the career and life of Gordy to a whole new audience, and embrace his legacy in the ring. “It’s one thing to know the competitor and the man, but it’s another thing to know someone’s dad or husband, that puts a whole different spin on things and what the song really means,” Hayes told WWE.com. “I really hope that people are able to see what a fun-loving guy Terry was,” Hayes said. “As much as he was a tough guy inside the ring, he was the opposite at home. Terry was a really good guy and I wanted to introduce him to a whole new generation of wrestling fans.” “This is one of those things that makes me content with my life,” Hayes said. “If I never do another thing with my life, I know I’ll be happy that I was able to honor my friend this way.” You can see The Freebirds in action on numerous WWE released DVD's and online.
Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Rob Van Dam was recently interview by Brian Fritz of Between The Ropes. Here are some highlights. Whether or not he has thought about slowing down or changing his style in the ring: No bro! I’m a showoff. That’s my whole job is to show what I have and my problem is the opposite. My problem is I’m always only allowed to show 10% of what I got. You know what I mean? People ask ‘I want to see more Van Daminators’. Well, that’s cool but it’s illegal to bring a chair in. I happen to be in a company that has a certain style where, if I brought the chair in and did it every single night, it might not mean as much. But back in the ECW days, that was the standard. So every night, I knew I was going to be able to give the fans their money’s worth whether it was a house show, TV or even on pay-per-view. I like to show that I can take more punishment than the other guys. I like to show that I’ve got flashy moves. I like to show that I have creativity by bringing in other factors and elements besides a regular, boring, one fall match inside the squared circle. Whether or not he would still be in wrestling if TNA had not been around when he signed with the company in 2010 or even right now: Who knows? I didn’t think so at one point after I had left WWE. You know, a lot of fans seem to think that the weed bust got me kicked out of WWE or something. People that really follow it saw that I stayed there for a while but I see that a lot on the Internet. And you know it’s always true if it’s on the Internet! I did the time there and when my contract ran up and left in favor of not living on the road in a different town every single day, flying and driving, then trying to cut through the tension of the dressing room to get to my bag. I left there and I was so burned out because, while I was burned out, things were getting worse the last several months. I had it in my contract that I’d have a weekend off once a month which they never gave me. And then towards the end, after I was bi###ing about that, they started booking me twice a day to do two shows. I said you guys are crazy! And when I left, there was a while where I thought man, I don’t care if I ever step on an airplane again, I’ve had so much of it. I don’t care if I step in the ring again, I’ve had so much of it. And, you know, my priorities were different at that moment, what I needed in my life. I thought I might not wrestle again. I didn’t even know. I was open to seeing what life might bring me. It did end up bringing me back. It wasn’t in a hurry, that’s for sure. Whether not he came close to returning to WWE before signing with TNA: I actually contacted WWE when it looked like things might work out with TNA’s contract. I emailed Johnny (Laurinaitis) and I actually said are you sure there isn’t a part-time schedule there. I even had some ideas where they would come out financially ahead of me, paying me a limited amount of dates but it never, the conversation never got as far as me explaining what my idea was. I did explain it to Dixie (Carter), the same scenario. Johnny has responded with they’d love to have me there, please reconsider and do full-time because they need me there the whole time. I was not even thinking about doing that. Even now, I can’t imagine going back to that crazy ass schedule that I worked with them. I’m grateful that I had that time with them. Right now, at this stage in my career, it’s even less appealing than it was prior to coming to TNA.
Friday, 10 August 2012
With TNA's next Pay-Per-ViewHardcore Justice just around the corner and some nes on the upcoming TNA UK/Ireland tour the Impact Wrestling organised a worldwide conference call with the current TNA Knockouts Champion Miss Tessmacher. Our very own Phil Allely listened in on the call and below are some highlights taken from all of the questions asked to the gorgeous grappler. Tessmacher was asked what she did to improve as a wrestler. She put over Tara big for helping her in the ring and outside it, as well as her wrestling school (I missed the name) and being on the road with women like Tara and Mickie James. She said she was living the dream now. When asked about her history growing up homeless and how it kept her grounded. She said she knows she earned this and that the knowledge that things could be gone tomorrow keeps her grounded and focused. A caller asked if "good" women's wrestling is a big part of TNA's future which Tessmacher put over. She also talked favorably about the veterans of the division and called it humbling to be the champion with those women around. In response to a question she said she thought people are taking her seriously as a female wrestler as opposed a model in wrestling. She also said that the comparison of her TNA career and WWE career can't be done because the two things were so different with different opportunities. She also talked about how excited she was before winning the Knockouts title and how amazing it was when she actually won the title. She said the best part was proving everyone wrong, and that she was more than just a model and the championship was proof. She also encouraged anyone cutting their teeth to have as many matches in front of crowds as they can. She also said she didn't think it was any easier for women to break into the business. She said she made it through Diva search which isn't happening anymore, but there are opportunities like Gut Check for women to break in, so it wasn't exactly harder either. In response to another question she said she understands why people are critical of her title reign because of how she got into the business, but she is proving each night she goes out there that she isn't a fluke and she does deserve it. She passed on listing anyone from WWE who should be pushed more. A fan mentioned the Awesome King vs. Gail Kim feud and she cut him off to put it over big. He asked if she would be interested in a feud with Kong and Tessmacher said yes and broke the match down from a kayfabe point of view. She said the moment she knew she wanted to be a wrestler full time was when she won the tag titles with Tara. She finished the rest of the question in character, but said that's when she started training more. She said her in-ring work was the toughest part of improving and that she's had to do more power lifting than she's ever done and that she's added a lot of running for the cardio. -She said she was doing lunges and 100m sprints to work on her glutes and is working on putting out a video to share her glutes secrets and her workout as a whole. She said she would like to work on acting and other skills than can help her in wrestling. Tessmacher also announced that she would be on the next UK tour and that it would be her first trip to the UK. She said she also wanted to perform in Australia, South America, and South Africa. -(real name)Brooke said she was disappointed that she was going back to just Miss Tessmacher because she wanted her name, but that she was more concerned with getting better in the ring. She said the best part of being famous was that you had a voice because people looked up to you, but she said that exposure can also be the worst because things you say can be twisted and there are always ears and eyes on you. She talked about the creepy relationship between Earl Hebner and Madison Rayne and said she was going to keep her eye on Earl. She said she would beat Madison. Running The Ropes are excited that the current TNA Knockouts Champion is being added to the roster for the upcoming UK/Ireland tour in January 2013. As ever we look forward to the matches from the Knockouts Division in TNA and hope to see Miss Tessmacher and her peers in action on these shores very soon indeed. By Phil Allely www.impactwrestling.com
Wednesday, 8 August 2012
Kevin Nash's Next Angle The controversial wrestling star has made a fortune in the ring and is making headway in Hollywood. So why can't he sleep at night? By Thomas Golianopoulos on August 7, 2012 (from grantland.com) PRINT Last December, during his final match in World Wrestling Entertainment, Kevin Nash, one of the most successful and recognizable professional wrestlers of his generation, fell off a ladder and through a table. He thought the table would cushion the blow. Instead, it caused his second concussion of the night. Minutes later, Paul "Triple H" Levesque pinned Nash. It was a worthy swan song. Backstage, Nash ran into Vince McMahon. "I think we saved your best for last," the WWE chairman and CEO told him. Once he returned home to Daytona Beach, Nash, 53, buzzed his long black mane, allowing it to grow in gray. He first wore the gray hair and beard a few years back in TNA Impact Wrestling to resemble one of his favorite movie tough guys, Wade Garrett, Sam Elliott's character in Road House. Now it keeps him grounded. "When my hair is dyed, I feel like I'm 35 again," he says. "Our business feeds that Peter Pan mentality." During his wrestling career, the sarcastically charismatic Nash was the smartest guy in the room. The center of attention. Big Sexy. Big Daddy Cool. Here, sitting in a restaurant in Daytona, cupping a glass of unsweetened iced tea, the veneer's gone; he's introspective. His face is smooth, unwrinkled. (He denies having undergone plastic surgery.) His Native American features are more pronounced in person than on television. He is, of course, still massive — 6-foot-10, 295 pounds, thick chest, round biceps, and forearms the size of a normal man's quadriceps. And he is now in the midst of a career change. Kevin Nash, like so many wrestlers before him, is trying to make it as an actor. The results, so far, have been encouraging. He didn't do much other than look tough as Tom Cruise's bodyguard in the musical Rock of Ages, released in June. But his work as Tarzan, a broken-down stripper, in the sleeper hit Magic Mike impressed and hints at a future. Still, he's not ready to give up wrestling. Nash still works on the independent scene. He likes the weekend schedule — it allows him time to bond with his 16-year-old son, Tristen, but it's a hustle compared to WWE's global monolith. He peddles 8x10s at autograph sessions before events where the crowds rarely top 1,000. Still, it's hard for Kevin Nash to turn down a paycheck. "I'm a Detroit kid who grew up with that assembly line mentality: You go to work to make money," he says. "My wife is like, 'Why do you still wrestle?' If you go to an ATM for a hundred dollars and it keeps spitting twenties, when would you walk away? When it wasn't spitting twenties no more. As long as you can take the money out, you'd stay there. That's what the wrestling business is like." Nearly every conversation with Kevin Nash leads back to money. He grew up in a working-class family in southwest Detroit in an 800-square-foot house. His parents met while working at Ford. Dad was in the graphics department; mom was a secretary. From his first job delivering newspapers, Nash has adhered to what he calls a "blue-collar, dollar-is-a-dollar outlook." Then there came a point in his life when he realized that a million dollars wasn't a whole lot of money, especially for an athlete with bad wheels. He's haunted by the memory of Tony Conigliaro, a gifted outfielder for the Boston Red Sox in the 1960s whose career was derailed following a horrific beaning. "So many people buy the ideal that this money is always going to be there," Nash says. "I bought the ideal that this could be over tomorrow." It's what keeps him up nights. He's struggled with insomnia since he was a child. It's intensified in recent years. Every night, after a few hours gorging on cable news, Nash lies in bed replaying the day's events. His mind races. He starts sweating. Sleep drifts further out of reach. Deep-breathing exercises are no help. Counting sheep is useless. He'll get to 17 or 18 and fall deeper down the wormhole. What kind of sheep? What are they hurdling? Is it a barbed-wire fence? Why are they even jumping? His brain won't shut down. Sometimes, he kicks around ideas for a screenplay in which he'll play a good Samaritan shot for his troubles and bound to a wheelchair. Sometimes, thoughts of China and the EU crisis creep in. That gets him thinking about his personal finances, which then triggers an anxiety attack. "In '08 when, basically, we were going into a Depression, I was beyond hyperventilating," he says. "I had to go to the doctor and get Xanax. I almost couldn't breathe. My guy from Merrill Lynch, my guy from Edward Jones is telling me, 'It's just on paper.' 'So, it's just on paper but if I want to live on that tomorrow, where's it at?' 'It's 3.7 [million].' 'Dude, it's not on paper, it's fucking real.'" Everywhere he looks around Daytona Beach, Nash is reminded of the recession. He points out of his black 2005 Mustang GT convertible toward a stock, one-story home that, he says, was once on the market for $599,000. Now, he bets it's available for $199,000. We pass a condominium built before the bubble burst. Nash doesn't think any of the lofts were sold. His own place, a duplex with pristine views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River, was recently appraised. It has depreciated $480,000 in value over the past three years. It's tough for a colossus to get acting gigs. But 2012 isn't Nash's first Hollywood moment. He broke into the business in 1991, portraying Super Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. He waited 13 years before appearing as The Russian in The Punisher. He says he paused his acting career because of money. "It's hard," he says. "When you're in that upper echelon in wrestling, any movie you take is gonna be a pay cut. If you're gone for three months and they pay you 150 grand, you're getting killed." Professional wrestling has always had a covetous relationship with cinema — wrestlers want to be actors. Dozens have attempted the leap. All, with the exception of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, have failed. Nash, however, has a plan: After dipping his toe into the genre,1 he's eschewing the D-grade action movies favored by his peers. He wants to be the next Paul Giamatti, not the next Schwarzenegger. Last year, Nash auditioned for Magic Mike casting director Carmen Cuba over Skype for the role of Tarzan, the towering elder statesman of a male strip club revue. He met all of Cuba's requirements: He was older and had his own fan base; he was taller than Joe Manganiello, the 6-foot-5 True Blood actor who plays Big Dick Richie in the movie; fit enough to wear a thong; and he was accustomed to juggling a public and private guise. "Who Kevin is as a person was very attractive to us," Cuba says. "In his personal life, he's an art lover and very sensitive. He's a family man and gets sentimental when he talks about his son. For us, the contrast between that and his larger-than-life persona, combined with his physique, was [appealing]." Tarzan wasn't much of a stretch for Nash. "It mimics where I am in the other world," he says. "I'm beat-down." On set, he told Academy Award–winning director Steven Soderbergh that he wouldn't dance without his knee brace. Soderbergh thought it was funny. The knee brace stayed. ERIC CHARBONNEAU/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES It's jarring to watch Nash strip to "It's Raining Men," but he found humor and sadness in the part, holding his own onscreen against Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey, and flourishing in the largely improvised scenes. "It was very Altman-esque," says co-star Matt Bomer. "There were times when we would just be sitting around, shooting the shit, and Steven would say, 'I like that conversation. Talk about that when we're rolling.' There were certain times when everything was improvised. The whole conversation about Kevin being ashy and asking The Kid to rub cocoa butter on his legs and then me saying, 'We all had to do it.' That was all improvised. Kevin was an amazing improviser. He brought so much in rounding out the ensemble and giving it depth and character." It was a richer experience than Rock of Ages. Nash sang backup for Tom Cruise on "Wanted Dead or Alive," but he had no dialogue. He also cursed out Cruise's makeup artist toward the end of shooting.2 He'd like to pick up more character-actor work like Magic Mike, maybe a romantic comedy or even a film set in the wrestling world; Nash pitched Tatum an idea for a film called King of the Road. "The Wrestler was a good movie, but The Wrestler is the end of the run," Nash says. "There's never been a movie about the run. That's what people want to see." Nash isn't as garrulous about a potential appearance in the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. Earlier this year, rumors floated him for the part of Brutus, but casting wasn't finalized when Nash mentioned the film while on the red carpet at the Magic Mike premiere. Now, Nash refuses to address the project. Nash was a top basketball recruit, and after his junior year at Aquinas High School he says he attended a basketball camp with Magic Johnson. The following year, they teamed on a Midwestern All-Star squad and defeated the Russian Junior National team in an exhibition. Every time they played together, Johnson told Nash to keep his hands up. "Early in the game, Magic came down the lane, I had my hands by my chin and all of a sudden, I had the ball in my hands," Nash remembers. "If Magic Johnson was my point guard, I probably could have had a couple of scrub years in the NBA." But Nash was a step slow and clashed with head coach Don DeVoe during three years at the University of Tennessee. The relationship detonated following a loss at Kentucky during which Nash was tossed for throwing a punch. "We go back to the locker room and DeVoe kept saying, 'Hey, hothead, you cost us the game,'" Nash says. "He grabbed my jersey and tried to spin me around. He kept running his mouth so I bitch-smacked him. I bear-pawed him." He washed out of Tennessee, spent two years in the Army, played professionally in Germany, and then, after tearing up his knee, returned to the assembly line in Detroit. He worked as a floor manager in an Atlanta area strip club when he broke into wrestling, attending the Georgia Academy of Wrestling in a little town called Lovejoy. His trainer Jody "The Assassin" Hamilton says Nash was "destined for success." He made his big television debut in September 1990 as part of a tag team, the Master Blasters, a Road Warriors knockoff that flopped immediately.3 World Championship Wrestling officials were high on Nash, however, and quickly repackaged him as Oz. Not the Wizard of Oz, just Oz, as in the fictional geographical region.4 Nash wore a rubber mask to the ring, an emerald-green cape, and was accompanied by the wrestler Kevin Sullivan, who also wore a rubber mask and, for some reason, handled a pet monkey. Oz's introduction at a May 1991 pay-per-view remains one of the goofiest moments in wrestling history. The gimmick didn't last. Soon after, Nash crafted a character inspired by Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven. The crowd remained apathetic to the newly christened Vinnie Vegas, but he had one fan. "I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever laid eyes on. I saw a guy that was incredibly talented and thought he should be on a much bigger stage," says Michael "Shawn Michaels" Hickenbottom. "What sealed the deal for me was that he was humble and appreciative. And then the fact that he was so darn funny." Nash jumped to the World Wrestling Federation in 1993 and became Diesel, a belligerent trucker moonlighting as Michaels's onscreen bodyguard. He didn't wrestle much but learned from being ringside, taking in Michaels's high-flying series of matches with Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall, an underrated mat-based powerhouse. That's when he fell in love with the business. Nash quickly blossomed into a main-eventer, and in November 1994, won the WWF Championship in an eight-second match. Nash believes he was awarded the title because Vince McMahon wanted a "clean" big man as champion following his acquittal on steroids charges.5 His ascent wasn't greeted warmly by the locker room. Rivals like Scott "Bam Bam" Bigelow complained of his push; wrestling manager/booker Jim Cornette once famously declared that Nash only had six wrestling maneuvers. Nash was green, especially compared to Michaels, who is now considered one of the greatest performers ever, but his size, charm on the microphone, and imposing finisher, the "Jackknife Powerbomb," won fans over. His greatest attribute, however, was his appetite for backstage politics. AP PHOTO/ED BAILEY Along with close friends Michaels, Hall, and Sean "The 1-2-3 Kid" Waltman (later known as X-Pac), Nash formed The Kliq, a collective that dominated the main-event scene and conspired for higher paychecks. (Triple H joined later.) "We were like the Five Musketeers," Nash says. "You have five guys telling each other what we're getting paid, so they know they couldn't fuck us. We broke the system. It's like those fuckers that go to Vegas and count cards. We cared more about each other than about the individual because we knew as a pack, we'd all prosper from it." It wasn't enough to stick around. Even as WWF champion, Nash says his contract was limited, for just 10 matches and $1,500. Merchandising and payouts6 could push earnings into the millions, but that money wasn't guaranteed.7 In spring 1996, he, along with Hall, signed with WCW to what he says was a five-year deal worth approximately $9 million, guaranteed. (Tristen was born six days into his WCW run.) He also shrewdly negotiated a "favored nation clause" into the contract — if another wrestler received a fatter deal from WCW, Nash's salary was adjusted to reflect the increase. "He's smart as hell," says "Diamond" Dallas Page. "I used to call him 'The Locker Room Lawyer.' If I let Kevin Nash totally control my career, I would have made at least another 2 million dollars." As we pull into the driveway at Nash's modest home, he gestures toward the residence across the street. "How much do you think he pays in property taxes? $36,000. I pay $7,200," he says, cackling. We walk through his garage, past a Bronco — "This is what I drive to my tea party meetings"8 — and into the house. Peja, a brown Yorkie named after Peja Stojakovic, greets him. We walk through his wife's home gym, past framed photographs from Nash's wrestling and basketball career, up a spiral staircase, and onto his rooftop deck. "I come up here and just take a breath," he says, looking past the ocean banks. Daytona Beach is special for another reason: It's home to the biggest moment in Nash's wrestling career. On July 7, 1996, at WCW's Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, Nash, Hall, and Terry "Hulk Hogan" Bollea formed the New World Order, a stable aimed at destroying the WCW. Turning the beloved Hogan heel was shocking. The Ocean Center crowd pelted the trio with garbage. One fan even charged the ring. It inspired a parody video after LeBron James's "Decision." The resulting nWo angle catapulted WCW past the WWF in the ratings for more than two years, until the emergence of the WWF's Attitude Era in spring 1998. By then, WCW was beset by creative problems. The nWo became diluted — black-and-white nWo shirts were slapped on generic mid-carders (Marcus "Buff" Bagwell), Hulk Hogan lackeys (Ed Leslie), and jobbers like Mike "Virgil"/"Vincent" Jones — and there was never any conclusion to the angle. Older stars like Nash and Hogan were also perceived to hold too much backstage power. "As far as politics goes, Kevin and I worked pretty good together as good-cop, bad-cop when we really needed to get things done in the back," Hogan says. "If we needed something done from Ted Turner or [former WCW president] Eric Bischoff or Vince McMahon or [TNA president] Dixie Carter, we'd be like, 'Kevin won't be happy if he doesn't get this. Or, 'Hogan might flip out if he doesn't get this.' We were good at double-teaming the 'enemy' in a political situation. We were ruthless." Along with Hogan, Kevin Nash might be the most despised man in the Internet wrestling community, a hive of hard-core wrestling nerds and snobs once known in the business as "smart marks," or "smarks." He's mocked in the comments section of wrestling websites and YouTube for, among other things, no-showing the Starrcade '97 pay-per-view because of a heart attack (he'd eaten a pan of pot brownies9), nearly killing Paul "The Big Show" Wight with a botched Powerbomb,10 allegedly booking himself to end Bill Goldberg's undefeated streak at Starrcade '98,11 and tearing his quad muscle during a match in 2002. "I'm never going to be an Internet darling. I could hit an 890 hurricanrana tomorrow and they'll say, 'Oh, his left knee hit before his right knee,'" he says. "You're not supposed to be 7 feet tall, handsome, smart. You're a giant, you should look like a giant and fee-fi-fo-fum around. You shouldn't know anything about art. You shouldn't be well-rounded. Look at the core of the hard-core wrestling fans. What do we have in common? When they go to New York City, do they go to the modern art museum and can't believe that Picasso's early work is not cubism? Do they know that? Do they care? Have they ever spent a day at an art museum ever in their life? Do they go to Amsterdam to see Van Goghs, then go to a coffeehouse and then go see Van Goghs again?" He laughs. "They don't. Sorry, man." It sounds like a great Kevin Nash promo. Here's one reason Nash will never be an Internet darling: He called Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero — small-statured, gifted technical wrestlers that lacked big in-ring personalities but were beloved by fans — "Vanilla Midgets." He now claims the comments were a double work. It drew heat from the marks that cheered for Benoit and Guerrero because they were baby faces. It drew heat from the smart marks that cheered for Benoit and Guerrero because they were great wrestlers. Even though both are gone now,12 he still thinks they never belonged in the main event. "When Benoit and Guerrero hugged [at the end of WrestleMania XX], that was the end of the business," he says. "Has business been the same since that WrestleMania? Has it come close to the Austin era? Has it come close to the nWo or the Hogan era? You put two fucking guys that were great workers that were the same height as the fucking referees, and I'm sorry, man. Are you going to watch a porno movie with a guy with a three-inch dick? Even if you're not gay, you will not watch a porno movie with a guy with a three-inch dick. That's not the standard in porno films. So you put a 5-foot-7 guy as your world champion." He has the same problem with today's Internet heroes, Phil "CM Punk" Brooks and Bryan "Daniel Bryan" Danielson. "They are not bigger than life," he says. "I bet they could both walk through airports and not be noticed unless they have a gimmick shirt on and the belt." We walk downstairs and wait for Nash's wife Tamara; they're going out to buy Tristen's first car, a steel-blue Jeep Wrangler Sport. John Lennon and Elvis Presley portraits hang in the foyer. Two more paintings hang in the living room. One has tepees and a '59 Cadillac. Its counterpart features more cars and pink dinosaurs. "Acid trips and cars," Nash says. And then, suddenly, without warning, he pulls out a .50-caliber Desert Eagle semiautomatic pistol. "Of course you have this for home protection. I love it." I don't know how to respond. A lot of people have guns down here. That's why I have one. Are you an NRA guy? No, I'm a stay-away-from-my-fucking-shit guy. He disassembles the gun. It's not loaded. Later that night, after dinner and two bottles of wine with his family at a riverfront seafood joint, Nash sits in his living room with another bottle. Talk soon turns to his lengthy reign as WWE champion, which was plagued by weak challengers (the rotund, immobile Nelson "Mabel" Frazier Jr.) and his babyface turn. After losing the title to Bret Hart in late 1995, Nash met with McMahon to discuss the direction of the business. "Did you see Heat? Did you root for Pacino or De Niro?," Nash asked his boss. McMahon admitted to cheering for the villain. "Don't you understand that the antihero is the new hero?" He thinks it inspired the Attitude Era and the subsequent ascent of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.13 He uncorks another bottle of wine. The booze makes him reflective. He talks about specific memories from the road: Watching Waltman and Levesque lay out a match together before Summer Slam '95; jobbing to local wrestler Mark Vandy at a recent independent show in Indianapolis; a brilliant promo he taped leading up to the Starrcade '98 collision with Goldberg. He'll occasionally watch that match on YouTube. "It had the electricity of a prizefight," he says. Around 1 a.m. Nash offers me a ride, and 15 minutes later we pull up to valet. We decide to grab another drink, but the hotel bar is closed. So is room service. Somehow, he convinces the night manager to send a bottle of Cabernet to my room. It's rare seeing a giant win an argument without intimidation. Once upstairs, Nash goes on for another hour on a variety of subjects. He talks about visiting a friend struggling with alcoholism (not Scott Hall14), extols Keith Richards's autobiography, his memories as a 4-year-old of President Kennedy's assassination, his property in St. John, his 161 IQ, and, again, money. He estimates he'll bank $525,000 yearly in retirement. "If I can't live on 525," he says, "I'm in trouble." He credits a handful of business decisions — buying early in silver and gold commodities and taking a chance on Ford when its stock was in the tank. Still, he's stressed. "The fucking peaks and valleys are so … jeez, man." Workers will arrive early the next morning to install hurricane shutters on his home. By the weekend, Kevin Nash will be in the Caribbean vacationing with his wife and son. His wrestling career made him a multimillionaire. His acting career is taking off. It's 2:40 a.m., another sleepless night in Daytona Beach. Thomas Golianopoulos (@golianopoulos) is a writer living in New York City. He has contributed to the New York Times, Wired, the New York Observer, and Spin.