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Diesel reign did much damage - why?


Kronos
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the Diesel reign did much damage

I was gonna respond to this comment in the HBK thread, but I decided not to hijack.

 

1995 WWF is a particularly weak period for me, knowledge-wise, so I don't know. But I hear this comment made all the time. I liked the matches Nash had with Bret, and he had a very good mania match with Taker (that was in 96, though?). What was it that made him so hated, onscreen? Did he just squash the feck out of everyone? The guy has charisma, as proven by his WCW and TNA runs, but was he just too green on the mic?

 

What are people thinking happened?

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He wasn't hated onscreen, it was just that he drew worse than, well, any champion before and maybe since. I don't think the fans were necessarily begging to see Diesel as champ, even if he did get over big at the Royal Rumble. His ascension to the top of the card had more to do with Vince's obsession with "turning heads at airports" than any real fan reaction to Nash. A lack of hot heels was a big factor - his first PPV title defense was a face vs. face match with Bret, who was more popular than he was, and then Shawn in a match booked to get Shawn over as a face (and with the size difference it would have been impossible for Diesel to get sympathy anyway). Then he feuded with Sid, who has never been a draw (I do still love him, as we all do), Mabel, who wasn't over and nobody took seriously, and Davey Boy, who had just spent the previous several months in a midcard tag team. While his interviews weren't bad, they weren't exceptional either (Nash was always better on the mic as a heel), and while he was over as a face, Shawn, Bret and Taker were all over more. So I'd say the reaction to him wasn't an outright rejection, more like a big "meh" than took Vince a whole year to wake up to.

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Well, I wouldn't call him lazy. It was definitely Nash's in-ring peak, whatever that's worth (though his best match, the no holds barred match with Shawn, came after his heel turn). The problem was that Nash has that naturally smarmy asshole charisma and his character at the time didn't reflect that at all. He was just a smiling nice guy who loved the fans and didn't charge for autographs.

 

Also, it can't be overstated how lopsided the face/heel alignment was during his reign. Let's look at the roster at the time of the much-maligned King of the Ring '95, the undeniable nadir of the Diesel era:

 

FACE

Diesel

Undertaker

Shawn Michaels

Bret Hart

Razor Ramon

123 Kid

Bam Bam Bigelow

Lex Luger

Davey Boy Smith

Smoking Gunns

Savio Vega

Bob Holly

Man Mountain Rock

Adam Bomb

Aldo Montoya

Duke Droese

Doink

 

HEEL

Sid

Owen Hart

Yokozuna

Mabel

Mo

Jeff Jarrett

The Roadie

Tatanka

IRS

King Kong Bundy

Kama

Jerry Lawler

Hakushi

Skip

Blu Brothers

Henry Godwinn

Rad Radford

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Diesel had the same problem Taker did, Vince kept wanting to do matches versus other big men that no one wanted to see.

I would agree with this to a point.

 

Nobody was going to make a program with Mabel mean shit, that's probably the big example. Putting him in there against Nash was always going to suck and none of the fans bought him as a title threat, but at least Nash pulled a plancha out of nowhere in an effort to make something people would remember (which is literally all I remember about that one so it must have worked).

 

The Davey Boy thing was never going to draw either Nash or otherwise across from him. I mean the consensus on him is he was a good worker, people liked him, just not as a top guy. I guess you could kind of compare him to Ron Garvin's role in the late 80's where people liked him as a wrestler and as a short term opponent but people weren't going to buy him holding the big belt.

 

Hey I defended Nash. Quite a day, this.

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No one was going to draw huge at that point because the WWF was tarnished by all the scandals, but house show business picked up literally right away when they switched from Diesel to Bret in late '95, and the first few months of '96 were also a really strong run of house shows for the company.

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Oh yeah Nash said in his shoot that Backlund wanted him to do chain wrestling and sunset flips during their run together. Jerry Brisco was a big Backlund supporter and had Nash go along with the layout. Nash complained to Vince and the programs were switched to Backlund with Razor and Jarrrett with Nash

 

yes I must see those Nash/Backund matches with Nash doing chain wrestling and sunset flips

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That Face/Heel schematic is shocking. There's absolutely no main event level talent on the heel side apart from Yoko (who was already on the decline, healthwise), Sid (arguably), and Owen (arguably). Lawler, of course, but surely he wasn't working too hard by 95. Jarrett arguably became main event quality but wasn't in 95.

 

Plus, there's a chunk of guys on the Face side (obviously Nash, Hall, and Waltman, at least) who made it big as heels.

 

What a mess. No wonder it was all so fucked up.

 

 

EDIT: I third (or fourth or whatever) the wish to see Backlund vs Nash, even in 1995.

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Sid bombed so hard as a main event heel in 95 it's not even funny. Owen was only seen as main event material against his brother, but was a fun mid-card tag heel along with Yoko at this point, who would never be seen as main event material either. Only Jarrett/Roadie were hot mid-card heels, but by August they were gone. Diesel really had no one to work with after Bret and Shawn. The main heel faction was the Million Dollar Corporation, easily one of the worst faction you can think of. A bunch of JTTS like IRS & Tatanka, over the hill Bundy, and DiBiase sucked as a manager. I thought Kama was a pretty decent gimmick though, but he was cannon fooder for Taker in terrible matches, so... This faction also ruined Bam Bam. No wonder why at the time I thought Skip, Hakushi and Jean Pierre Lafitte were a breath of fresh air. Of course every one of the got totally wasted.

1995 is the nadir of mainstream US wrestling. I don't think it's fair to blame Diesel for that.

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No one was going to draw huge at that point because the WWF was tarnished by all the scandals, but house show business picked up literally right away when they switched from Diesel to Bret in late '95, and the first few months of '96 were also a really strong run of house shows for the company.

It picked up when they went to the Bret-Taker-Nash three way. I think it was a modest increase if anything in Dec (and possibly little when considering seasonal variation). But after they cranked up the threeway (and Shawn returned), things picked up as they started an upward swing that carried into the first half or so of Shawn's title reign. It would slow later in 1996.

 

John

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A Hart Foundation reunion in 1995 with Bret, Owen, & Davey would've been a much needed breath of fresh air in 1995. Those guys feuding against Diesel/HBK/Razor could've drawn some money with the right booking.

You are forgetting that the Kliq wasnt doing jobs outside of the Kliq and often jobs full stop.

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I think they would have jobbed to them in '95, but after WrestleMania 12 and throughout all of '97, it would have been terrible. I think HBK would have been especially fond of doing the job, that is, if he was guaranteed the strap prior to the iron man match.

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Do the Bret turn after the 1st In Your House PPV as you have him blowoff his feuds with Hakushi & Lawler on that card preferably in a tag match with Diesel on RAW to setup a tag match at King of the Ring with Diesel/HBK vs. Bret/Owen instead of that awful Diesel/Bigelow vs. Tatanka/Sid match. Look at the KOTR PPV alone to see what a terribly booked show that was. HBK doing a draw with Kama, Mabel winning the KOTR against Savio Vega, and so on.

 

The July In Your House you pull the trigger on the Davey turn as he turns on Luger after they lose to Owen/Yokozuna, HBK takes the IC title from Jarrett, and have Diesel defend his title against whichever heel won the KOTR.

 

Go to Summerslam and run Diesel vs. Bret for the title with Bret winning, HBK/Razor vs. Owen/Yoko for the tag titles, Bulldog vs. 1-2-3 Kid.

 

Then you go to the September In Your House where you have your All titles on the line match with Bret/Owen winning the tag titles/IC title from HBK/Razor giving them all the belts as Diesel faces Yoko in the semi-main to blow Yoko off the feud.

 

Next is the October IYH in Winnipeg where you run a six-man with HBK/Razor/Diesel vs. Hart Foundation with Razor getting the fall on Bret.

 

Survivor Series then is set up with Bret vs. Razor, and a Survivor Series match with Diesel/HBK/Kid/Undertaker vs. Owen/Davey/Mabel/Yankem.

 

December IYH in Hershey you run Bret/Owen vs. Diesel/HBK for the tag titles with Diesel going over Bret.

 

Royal Rumble you run Bret vs. Diesel, HBK winning the Rumble, & Razor taking back the IC title from Owen.

 

February IYH you run Bret vs. Taker with Vader coming out costing Taker the match, HBK/Diesel vs. Owen/Davey vs. Razor/Kid for the tag titles where you turn Razor/Kid heel and winning the tag titles.

 

March WM you run Bret/HBK with HBK going over, Razor dropping the IC title to Diesel, Taker vs. Vader

 

Then so on.

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Yeah. Bret was the absolute babyface in 95. I don't see how he would have turned heel at all at this point. The fact that he remained over despite having shitty feuds with Lawler, Hakushi, Dentistkane and Jean Pierre Lafitte, and got right into the title picture like nothing happened tells you how much the WWF crowd loved him.

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Do the Bret turn after the 1st In Your House PPV as you have him blowoff his feuds with Hakushi & Lawler on that card preferably in a tag match with Diesel on RAW to setup a tag match at King of the Ring with Diesel/HBK vs. Bret/Owen instead of that awful Diesel/Bigelow vs. Tatanka/Sid match. Look at the KOTR PPV alone to see what a terribly booked show that was. HBK doing a draw with Kama, Mabel winning the KOTR against Savio Vega, and so on.

 

The July In Your House you pull the trigger on the Davey turn as he turns on Luger after they lose to Owen/Yokozuna, HBK takes the IC title from Jarrett, and have Diesel defend his title against whichever heel won the KOTR.

 

Go to Summerslam and run Diesel vs. Bret for the title with Bret winning, HBK/Razor vs. Owen/Yoko for the tag titles, Bulldog vs. 1-2-3 Kid.

 

Then you go to the September In Your House where you have your All titles on the line match with Bret/Owen winning the tag titles/IC title from HBK/Razor giving them all the belts as Diesel faces Yoko in the semi-main to blow Yoko off the feud.

 

Next is the October IYH in Winnipeg where you run a six-man with HBK/Razor/Diesel vs. Hart Foundation with Razor getting the fall on Bret.

 

Survivor Series then is set up with Bret vs. Razor, and a Survivor Series match with Diesel/HBK/Kid/Undertaker vs. Owen/Davey/Mabel/Yankem.

 

December IYH in Hershey you run Bret/Owen vs. Diesel/HBK for the tag titles with Diesel going over Bret.

 

Royal Rumble you run Bret vs. Diesel, HBK winning the Rumble, & Razor taking back the IC title from Owen.

 

February IYH you run Bret vs. Taker with Vader coming out costing Taker the match, HBK/Diesel vs. Owen/Davey vs. Razor/Kid for the tag titles where you turn Razor/Kid heel and winning the tag titles.

 

March WM you run Bret/HBK with HBK going over, Razor dropping the IC title to Diesel, Taker vs. Vader

 

Then so on.

Some problems with that, though.

First, Bret losing three PPV matches, which are hotshotting feuds (Razor/Diesel). Let alone Diesel going from World champ to IC champ; which I doubt he'd ever go for, and it would devalue his reign as champion slightly more. Anyway, the IC, from your booking would also be devalued going from HBK, to Owen, then to Razor, and then to Diesel. Razor had just had a program with Bret, and for the big eagle belt, is soundly bested, and now goes after the IC title? I'm presuming that Razor/Kid would beat Owen/Davey?

Bret would look weak coming into his title match @ WM, as he has lost matches as World champion against IC and Tag champions.

This booking would probably work in TEW, but in reality, not so much. There are too many large egos involved.

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Since the post was in response to something I wrote, I did want to say that the reasons covered in this thread pretty much sum up how I felt about it.

 

They took the Diesel gimmick and turned it from Nash being the guy who is cool and knows it, into a wishy-washy goody-goody. Then he had no opponents who he could have good matches with, except for those in which it wouldn't look like the odds were against him. On top of that, he wasn't the most over wrestler... as has been mentioned, fans cared more about Bret, Shawn and Undertaker.

 

I agree that Nash's reign came during a time when he had no chance to draw, but the fact is, business got worse during his reign and house show business didn't turn around until he dropped the title to Bret.

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