Bruce Prichard has opened up about a time in WWE where the shift from characters to a more realistic presentation killed their WWE Champion’s popularity with the crowd stone dead.
Prichard was discussing the career of Kevin Nash and his run as ‘Big Daddy Cool’ Diesel in the World Wrestling Federation on his ‘Something To Wrestle With’ podcast. Nash first donned the black gloves of Diesel in 1993, staying with the WWF until he famously jumped ship with Scott Hall to WCW and formed the nWo.
During that run Diesel went from loathed bodyguard of Shawn Michaels to a cool hero who the audience gravitated to as he was unstoppable in the ring on his way to winning the WWF Championship.
Prichard discussed the switch from having the mysterious Diesel character start to be presented in more realistic terms. His background as a basketball player at East Tennessee University was brought up as some harboured the belief that the fans wanted more realistic heroes.
For Prichard, this doomed Diesel:
“Well, I don’t think it was necessarily working, and it goes back to day one of ‘okay, here’s Diesel and he’s your champion, and we want him to be this big babyface, so he is going to lead everybody in prayer and then, let’s sing you know, ‘Ho, ho, ho Green, no, what’s the song? We wish you a Merry Christmas; we wish you, yeah!’ And he ceased being Diesel.”
“It became, (mimics Jim Ross) ‘Well, Kevin Nash, Diesel is Kevin Nash. He was at the East Tennessee playing Basketball, and what a quarter he had that one time when he scored four points.’ All of sudden, everything I loved about Diesel went away because he became Kevin Nash from East Tennessee University and a Basketball player.”
Prichard expanded on why he felt the audience didn’t care about the real Nash’s athletic past and tore apart a sit-down interview that Diesel took part in:
“Everything that was cool about him went away because somebody felt, ‘God damn, we’ve got to have credentials. You’ve got to have credentials. You’ve got to have a real story about these guys; he could have been a two-and-a-half-time All-American.’ Nobody gives a f*ck* about that sh*t. They thought Diesel was cool; he kicked people’s a**es. When he seized to become Diesel, what the f*ck, you know, when you figure that you mid-term, it’s like, ‘Ah!’ The audience overall, they were intrigued by Diesel. They weren’t intrigued by Kevin Nash at this point in time.”
“I remember begging almost not to do that God damn sit-down interview they did way back. ‘Tell me about your college career? Tell me about Kevin?’ We killed him right there. In that moment, we killed what we had spent all that time building. That’s the 100% truth.”
Bruce Prichard then contrasted the realism of how the WWF was portraying Diesel compared to stars of the past. For Prichard, they should have taken the approach that had worked so well with Hulk Hogan.
“Pushing that, in order to have a champion people would believe in, you had to give them real things to believe in. You had to tell them a real story, but yet not one time would you sit there and f*cking take Hulk Hogan. ‘And now tell me, Terry? When you were in the band, you played bass, right?’ Why the f*ck would anyone bring that up and why? Why do you want to? Diesel was a character; Kevin Nash was a person. The audience was in love with the character. They didn’t know the person. You keep the person mysterious and a mystique. When he becomes just like your buddy who went to college in East Tennessee and played the year on the team, what’s special about him anymore? I could relate to him. You don’t want people to relate to your top megastar.”
Kevin Nash recently shared some thoughts on his former partner Shawn Michaels on their WWE Untold special on the ‘Two Dudes With Attitude.’