Over a year ago now, Kevin Nash returned to WWE at the 2011 Royal Rumble. I was never the biggest fan of Big Sexy, but he’s undeniably a huge star, and it was exciting to see him come back, especially as part of the Royal Rumble Match. Afterward, he pretty much disappeared from WWE television until last year’s SummerSlam, when he ran out and Jackknife Powerbombed CM Punk, indirectly causing Punk to lose his WWE Championship to Alberto Del Rio. What happened next is something that I’ve always found baffling, inexplicable and infuriating, as the ensuing storyline did nothing but put Triple H over and kill all of Punk’s considerable momentum.
Thing is, it’s such a large, in-depth issue to write about, and most of my wrestling writing relates to very specific recent events, so I’ve never been able to fit my thoughts on the whole debacle anywhere. But, yesterday a user named Waldek commented on on this week’s Monday Night Raw recap with the following question:
Anyway, I have a quick question for you: do you have any idea what happened to Kevin Nash? I mean, he came in injured Triple H, competed in one match and then disappeared? Did they drop that storyline or did he get the pink slip (which wouldn’t surprise me since I’ve heard Nash is a pain in the @$$). I’ve looked all over the internets and can’t find anything about it. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Since my thoughts on the subject were a little too expansive for a reply in the comments, I figured why not lay out my thoughts on last year’s Nash storyline here on DROPKICK OUT THE JAMS.
I try not to base anything I write on unsubstantiated Dirt Sheet rumors. It’s true, they sometimes turn out to be correct, but they’re just as often off-base or half-true, and there’s no way to tell the difference. So, in talking about Nash’s most recent WWE run, I’m going to do my best to stick to what we’ve seen on television, extrapolating out what folks backstage might have been intending to come about as a result.
When Nash came back and attacked Punk, costing him the WWE Title, it looked like WWE was going to have the two feud together. This pushed back the rivalry that the promotion had been apparently building between Punk and Triple H (having teased at an almost Austin/McMahon-esque storyline between the two), but the whole thing made a certain amount of sense, given Nash’s well-documented friendship with Triple H, the fact that Big Sexy is old enough that he likely wouldn’t be returning to the roster full-time for any serious duration, and the knowledge that by defeating Nash, Punk would be taken that much more seriously when it came time to have his seemingly inevitable feud with Triple H.
But then things started getting confusing, as the obvious conflict between Punk and Nash was eclipsed by the less-intense one between Triple H and Kevin Nash over who exactly asked Nash to take out Punk (it turned out to be Nash, texting himself from Triple H’s cellphone because…well, I’m not really sure why). Meanwhile, instead of building Punk by letting him defeat Triple H’s friend, the former WWE Champion, now firmly removed from the title picture, was placed into an immediate feud with the boss himself, Triple H. This seemed premature to me, especially since their Night of Champions bout was a No Disqualification Match, but I was willing to wait it out, as WWE could have always had Nash run in and cost Punk the match to help out his pal, Triple H. But instead of protecting the guy who had just a few short months earlier had gotten mainsteam media to sit up and take note of WWE, Triple H went over strong on Punk and seemingly half the locker room.
I was still trying to be optimistic at that point, as Hell in a Cell was the following month, and I was hoping that particular stipulation would be utilized to prevent outside involvement in a Punk/Triple H rematch, allowing Punk to get a humongous win over Triple H, who has a history competing inside HiaC. But instead, Punk was thrown back in the WWE Title picture, placed in a three-way match that he lost to Alberto Del Rio – not exactly the way I’d book a guy who was poised to be the new face of the company.
But while the powers-that-be in WWE weren’t willing to let Punk get a win over Triple H (whose wrestling days are clearly dwindling), validating the younger talent through the victory, they did decide to give him the rub in another way: By having Triple H tell Punk he respects him and generously agree to compete in (and lose) a tag team match against makeshift heel duo the Awesome Truth. Interestingly Miz and R-Truth’s new heel gimmick was more or less a fictional version of what Punk had actually done to turn himself face in the build-up to Money in the Bank earlier last year, so WWE was even invalidating the gimmick that caused Punk to explode in popularity.
Afterward, Punk, devoid of all the momentum he had built up last summer after having been beaten up by both Nash and Triple H, then forced to team with his boss in a match they didn’t win, was inserted back into the WWE Title picture. Shockingly, he was booked to win the WWE Title, but with all his momentum gone, the excitement around the wrestler had evaporated as well.
Then, as if the rub Triple H got from beating CM Punk, arguably the most popular star in WWE at that time, wasn’t enough, he then entered a feud with Kevin Nash, brutally beating him in a Ladder Match at Tables, Ladders and Chairs and sending him on his way with a WWE Legends contract and countless WrestleUnion appearances to schedule. Apparently, while it’s not all that important for the guy holding the WWE Championship to look good, it is crucial that Triple H always be the absolute strongest, best, most unbeatable guy around, who can only lose when he has a guy like Punk weighing him down in a tag team match.
Nash’s run in WWE was confusing because pretty much everyone assumed its endgoal was to put CM Punk over, while the real endgame was making Triple H look even more ridiculously powerful and unstoppable. As a Punk fan, it’s extremely frustrating, but it remains a fascinating piece of booking acrobatics, as Triple H managed to siphon off all of Punk’s heat and kill his momentum without even turning heel. It’s possible that this was Triple H’s (and possibly WWE management’s) plan all along – a way of pushing The Game in advance of his WrestleMania match against the Undertaker while also punishing Punk for having the audacity to start throwing his weight around – and in my more paranoid moments, I sometimes think that the entire thing was a Machiavellian scheme hatched up by the King of Kings himself.
Whether it was intentional or not, however, the end result was the same: Kevin Nash was brought in, made Punk look bad, did nothing to put Punk over, put Triple H over and left. A conspiracy-minded individual might just say it was the Kliq at work…
Do you have a question for good ol’ Shitterson? Lay it on me in the comments or get at me on Twitter. It it requires more than 140 characters to answer, I’ll do you a blog about it!